Tiger Woods, Kanye West, Russell Brand, David Duchovny and, most recently, Anthony Weiner are just some of the high-profile names associated with an irrepressible appetite for sex, real or virtual — a drive that leaves the famous and unknown alike with doomed relationships and broken hearts.
The diagnosis of “sex addiction” is a tidy way to deal with a messy problem. Traditionally, it is described as compulsive sexual thoughts and acts, characterized by an inability to control sexual behavior, even when it’s risky or harmful.
But is it a “real” addiction?
When drug addicts are shown images of a drug, their brain activity immediately reacts significantly — which is how scientists define addiction. But a new study has found that those claiming sexual addiction don’t have the same significant change in brain activity when shown erotic images.
The researchers studied 39 men and 13 women who had been diagnosed with sex addiction. They were shown sexual and non-sexual images in a test similar to the kind used to monitor the brain activity of drug addicts.
What they found was that their brain responses were related only to their level of sexual desire, not to the severity of their “condition.”
Study author Nicole Prause of the University of California at Los Angeles, told Popsci, “Hypersexuality does not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response any more than just having a high libido.”
The research was published in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology.